Friday, October 15, 2010

Removing Chaff--Not So Easy

 I had a bumper crop of anise this year. 

The lacy-leafed bush that I grow as much for the monarchs it attracted one season as for its seeds. Sadly, the pudgy, iridescent green caterpillars have never returned to frolic amongst the sea-green gossamer that looks as though it would be equally happy submerged in some land-locked lake.

Monarchs or no monarchs, my anise bush has flourished. No matter, the birds like the seeds.

This year I harvested some seeds taking care to leave a fair amount for the goldfinches. I dried the seeds on a tray in my kitchen for a week, along with their fibrous leaves and delicate stems. Then it was time to get biblical-- to separate the wheat from the chaff.  
Oh what fragrance filled my kitchen! Reward enough for my efforts thus far.

The next task was not difficult but it was time consuming. I gently crunched the dry heads between my fingers and, with tiny tinkles, the seeds fell to the tray. So did many of the broken stems. As I have great plans to include the anise seeds in a Christmas cookie recipe, the stems had to go. This was when the clock seemed to stop ticking.
Finally I had removed enough of the stems to sift the remaining pile through a strainer. Of course some stubborn stems determined to offer up extra crunch to my cookies wound up amongst the seeds and these I removed as well.

I find myself removing lots of sticks and stems from my days as well. I am increasingly aware of the limit to my days. The pressure to make them as fruitful as possible overwhelms me at times. I should relax--should enjoy the extra time I have post retirement. But I cannot. I have so many miles to travel before I sleep.

Unlike my effort with the anise seeds, this task is difficult. It requires that I give equal attention to my passions and to the significant people in my life---not necessarily an inclusive equation.  To balance them fairly means to eliminate some of the chaff that has accumulated. I can see that there might be pain associated with this elimination process. I encountered none with my little anise seed project.

I haven’t resolved it yet but my sanity will soon demand that I get started. There are only twenty-four hours in each day. I need to simplify my life so as to have quality time to pursue my favorites. Sounds like an internet thing…my favorites.

Meanwhile the leaves are tumbling outside my bay window--delicate reminders that the seasons are changing. That summer will soon be a memory.

I gathered an entire spice jar of seeds today and now I’m thinking I won’t ever get to baking those cookies. That would be only adding chaff to the wheat of my life.

I’m glad I left some seeds for the birds. They may be the only ones who benefit from my fragrant anise bush.


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